Christopher High Site Approved

Above is the proposed plan for the new Christopher High School

Board OKs 40-acre plot of land despite concerns about lack of
room for expansion
Gilroy – There weren’t many options. After scouring the area, Gilroy Unified School District officials settled on land they had originally eyed for the new high school.

Their rationale for choosing a 40-acre plot of land sandwiched between Tapestry Drive and Santa Teresa Boulevard despite concerns that there’s little room for expansion, is quite simple.

“There are not very many parcels of land within the city that can accommodate a comprehensive high school,” said Superintendent Edwin Diaz.

A few GUSD board members voiced their concerns about the space limitations of the future Christopher High School but the board still unanimously approved the site at last week’s meeting.

Before voting, board member Jim Rogers said he would “reluctantly” throw his support at the new site because he was convinced that district officials had explored all possibilities.

Rogers’ convictions are right-on.

The district went through a long process and evaluated a number of sites but the Santa Teresa site was the only one that worked, Diaz said.

The other issue was if Christopher High, which will eventually cap out at 1,800 students, would fit on 40-acres of land. The preliminary sketch of the new high school shows classrooms, courtyards, parking lots and athletic fields and courts fitting nice and snug within the 40-acres. The high school will only have a practice football field. Football games will be played at Gilroy High School.

Construction will be funded by Measure I, the $69 million bond approved by voters in November of 2002. The land and construction will cost the district an estimated $47 million, said Steve Brinkman, GUSD assistant superintendent.

When Brinkman displayed the map of the new high school at last week’s board meeting he explained that another draw-back to the site is the school will sit on land sandwiched between two “large arteries.”

The assistant superintendent emphasized that the map is “purely a preliminary, conceptual design,” and subject to change.

But the district doesn’t have much time to turn that sketch of a high school into the real thing.

With 2,600 students packed into GHS, which has a capacity of 2,800, and a sea of portables clogging the campus, a new high school is no luxury.

District officials are quite aware of the crowded campus and plan to have Christopher High up and running for the 2009-2010 school year.

The high school will initially house 900 students. By 2014, it should have the infrastructure to hold 1,800 students.

The district is still in the process of purchasing the 40-acre plot from a local landowner. If the owners maintain an estate on the land for life, as Diaz suspects the family will request, the high school will actually sit on 38 acres.

But either way, the district expects that land to soon become available and will probably use it for parking.

Although the high school’s namesake is Don Christopher, the local garlic producer actually donated 10 acres located off of Miller Road and Santa Teresa Boulevard.

Diaz said the district will probably sell that land to generate funds for the master plan.

“It’s a huge asset for us,” he said.

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